At some point, we become unable to provide the care and support that our eldest loved ones require. When the decision to place a family member is made, it can be very difficult and emotional. Will the nursing home care for our loved one the same way that we would? Will the nursing home have our loved one’s best interests in mind at all times?
Unfortunately, even the best nursing homes are being pushed to the limits as the elderly population continues to grow. With the rise in the number of beds, nursing home staff become over worked and stressed. Combine this with little pay and little credit, and you get a recipe for abuse and neglect.
The rate of nursing home abuse and neglect continues to be a problem. Abuse and neglect results in serious physical and emotional injuries. One of the most common psychological injuries suffered by nursing home residents are panic attacks and anxiety disorders.
Symptoms of Panic Attacks and Anxiety Disorders in Nursing Home Residents
Panic attacks and anxiety disorders are mental illnesses that occur in many people. Anxiety disorders include panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and phobias. Anxiety disorder sufferers generally suffer from debilitating distress that interferes with a resident’s normal activities. Residents with these symptoms often find it difficult to cope and are stressed on a consistent basis.
At present, researchers are unclear of the root cause of anxiety disorders. However, it is clear that anxiety disorders and panic attacks may occur as a result of a stressful occurrence. Experiences inducing such disorders include the following:
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse
- Physically traumatic accident or attack
- Serious and sudden illness or disease
- Death of a loved one
Symptoms of anxiety disorders in nursing home residents include:
- Inability to concentrate.
- Sleeping problems or restlessness.
- Uncharacteristic agitation and anger.
- Being easily startled or uncharacteristically tense or on edge.
- Staying away from certain places or people.
- Sudden and repeated bouts of intense fear.
Anxiety Disorders Caused by Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse
Any event that leaves a person feeling overwhelmed, helpless, alone, and hurt can lead to symptoms of anxiety disorder. Further, being in a stressful environment can exacerbate the problem. Sadly, many nursing home residents experience such events, making long term care facilities a breeding ground for mental illness issues.
Nursing home staff attempting to cut corners may have a tendency to lash out at uncooperative residents, or those residents with limited capacity. Sometimes, often due to improper background checks by management, employees with their own mental issues physically or sexually abuse. Due to the confined nature of most nursing homes, residents who are not abused, but witness the abuse, are also harmed.
Such events cause the symptoms of anxiety disorders in nursing home residents.
How is Anxiety Disorders are Treated in Nursing Home Residents
Anxiety disorders and panic attacks can be treated. Treatment, support, and time are important components in recovery. Anxiety disorders can be treated by the following:
- Psychotherapy: Changing thought patterns, recognizing and avoiding triggers, and associating alternate emotions with memories.
- Medication: Serotonin or SSRIs are often used to treat through the reduction of anxiety and depression symptoms.
- Self Care and Family Support: Demonstration of family love and support can help boost the confidence of the sufferer.